When faced with the unknown, with an idea that seems difficult if not impossible, here's a mindset that can help:
I don't know how it will happen, but it will happen.
Pieces. We've got many of pieces of songs. There are melodies, chord structures, and lyrics, all of which are disorganized and incomplete. With all of the parts floating around, it's a bit of a chaotic mess. I love this stage of making an album. My mind has to keep track of all the details, which stretches it beyond what feels comfortable. As it tries to hold the parts together, it often has breakthroughs, discovering bridges to combine what seems divergent.
"In your heart you know what you need to do."
We started Mixed Messages Demo #22. It was an accident. I grabbed a chorus that I've been thinking about for months and added it to a song that presented itself in practice. What a fit. It sounds amazing, maybe the best melody to date. But a question remains: What's the right key for the song? If the melody is too high we won't be able to pull it off live. I won't feel comfortable doing it on a regular basis for fear of hurting my vocal chords. If it's too low, it loses its punch. Compromise would seem smart here, but in the middle, the melody floats through a range of my voice where it doesn't mix seamlessly between the registers. There is no satisfying option, at least not yet. Problems like this make song writing both fun and maddening.
"But it doesn't make it any easier to follow through."
Regardless, I felt momentum this afternoon. It's been missing, and I've wondered when and if it would show up. Without it, the music sounds routine. I think that's why many songwriters lose their edge as they grow older. An inspiration used to exist, but eventually passion gets replaced by certainty, by what works. That's when the desire to struggle wanes, and the music suffers. A beginners mind, cultivating confusion, and letting yourself remain open and excited all help keep the music alive.